Personalizing preparedness: Having the tools you need to survive a disaster

Written by Monica Ivey.

September is National Preparedness Month, a time to prepare for crisis and natural disasters. Families, schools, communities and workplaces are urged to take action on National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, by participating in a simple yet specific activity that will increase preparedness for everyone. Suggestions include creating an emergency kit, hosting an emergency drill practice, having a group discussion on family and/or workplace emergency plans, and being informed about the different types of hazards that could occur in your community and the best actions to mitigate danger.

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Armageddon. Deep Impact. Twister. The Day After Tomorrow. Dante’s Peak. 2012.

Americans are obsessed with movies that portray apocalyptic natural disasters. However, if one of these catastrophes hit your hometown, would you be prepared?

As first responders to citizens in times of distress, the Coast Guard is reminding everyone to be Semper Paratus, Always Ready, for natural hazards.

A family goes over the perparedness plan. Photo courtesy of FEMA.

Photo courtesy of FEMA.

Every citizen is responsible for his or her own safety and at a minimum should have an emergency supply kit with at least three days worth of food and water at home. You are also encouraged to establish a family emergency plan and be informed of the types of natural disasters that could occur in your community and how to best protect yourself and your family.

Why prepare?” many may ask, taking the fatalist, “whatever happens, happens” stance. Establishing an emergency plan and having a survival kit could be the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones. Mother Nature can be wicked at times and you must be prepared when she decides to unleash her fury. In other words, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Do you have the specific needs of your family members covered? If not, now is the time to put an emergency plan of action in place.

Examples of special needs situations may include:

  • Working, single parents – Children may be with caretakers or home alone. Insure that in both cases, an emergency plan has been established and your kids know how to respond and where to report.
  • Seniors – Determine if seniors can escape independently or if they will need assistance and plan accordingly. Keep necessities such as a wheelchair, hearing aids and medications readily accessible.
  • Special and/or medical needs – Have an alternative caretaker on hand for emergencies and make certain that necessities for health and comfort (i.e. medications, supplies, oxygen, wheelchairs, identification) are easy to gather. Consider keeping extra medication and supplies in an emergency kit.
  • Pets –Build an emergency supply kit for your pet including food, medications, a carrier, and an ID tag. Discuss plans for pet safety and care in case evacuation is necessary.


Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so discuss in advance how you will contact and reunite with one another. Print copies of your communications plan for all family members and also keep a copy in your emergency kit.Share the facts with your kids about natural disasters in a fun and non-intimidating way or look to others to learn what works for them when it comes to family preparedness.

You can never be too prepared. Start protecting your family now by building your emergency kit, discussing your emergency plan and practicing safety drills two to four times a year with family and friends.

Preparing makes sense!

Join the Preparedness Community for National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, a National Day of Action, where schools, places of employment, faith-based and community organizations , colleges and universities are encouraged to host a specific activity, focusing on a specific hazard (earthquake, flood, wildfire, tornado, hurricane, winter storm) to have a tangible impact of increased preparedness for each individual. Go to for more information.

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